Vimeo announced last week that starting August 1st, they will no longer be retaining the original source files for free accounts.
Since the very beginning, Vimeo has retained the original video files that you upload, and allowed you to grant people permission to download those files. We always take these original files and convert them so that they will play online and in the Vimeo player. We kept the original files for download because we wanted you to be able to save your video exactly the way it looked when it left your hard drive. This aspect of the service was not a huge burden on us when the site was younger, but we’ve had to take another look at what we are realistically capable of offering for years to come, while making sure the site stays on budget. Original file storage of every file for every user is a massive cost, and we have noticed that only a very small set of users actually ever download their own files. We want to keep original file storage around as a feature for people who use it, but we can’t continue to do it for everybody.
This has actually prompted me to finally make the upgrade to Vimeo Plus. The upgrade had a slight at the point of a rapier feel to it, but because the strongest impetus I had was to keep my original file uploads, I had a quick look through and discovered that I have over 3GB of source files sitting on Vimeo’s servers. $60/year isn’t such a bad deal for this kind of storage volume. It’s in line with online storage services such as box.net, or normal web hosting accounts, and of course Vimeo’s only limit is the 5GB/week upload. So even just as a file hosting service it’s a reasonable investment.
Of course there’s the other Plus features, most attractive to me being pre- and post-roll customization and unlimited Groups/Albums etc. Personally I don’t understand the rationale of sites – Flickr being another one – which nerf their free accounts in this way. Albums, Groups, Sets and other playlist-style features make media sharing sites considerably more useful and navigable, so limiting this functionality to a small subset of users limits the overall usefulness of the site.
I’ve also heard from another social video service, Tubemogul (which allows seamless uploading across multiple video networks, more on this soon), that Vimeo are considering blocking Tubemogul access for Vimeo free accounts. This seems a little anti-competitive and myspace-ish, blocking 3rd party tools that make your site more efficient.
Pettiness aside, I’m still loving Vimeo as a service, and the community seems to be holding off the Youtube-like hoards or trollish commenters. Let’s see how my first year as a Plus member pans out.
Ed.: Vimeo still looks like a top choice to me. We’re working on publishing more CDM’s own videos to Blip.tv – we plan on making video a bigger part of the CDMs, and Blip has a more liberal ad policy, plus easier cross-posting to things like iTunes. But Vimeo is terrific for sharing your work. I’m also intrigued by dailymotion, which recently had a big presence at the Open Video Conference and is the first to do a broad test of OGG and HTML5 for Flash-less video playback, something critical to the future of the open Web. Blip founders were at that conference, and it’d be great to see a Blip or Vimeo join in. Thoughts on any of these services? We’d love to hear them. -PK